One of the most fascinating things I deal with as a middle man between the Dolphins and their fans is how sometimes the team and the folks rooting for that team share a common goal and common thinking. And sometimes they really do not.
Sometimes the disconnect in the team's agenda and the fans' agenda is startling.
And I perceive there is some disconnect here.
Correct me if I am wrong, but judging from some of your comments on this blog and the comments of fans I talk to on the radio or meet on the street, some fans are walking around with a happy-to-be-here attitude. It is as if some of you have believe 2008 was a wonderful foundation-building year and the reconstruction project won't be complete for another year or two so whatever happens this season is fine with you.
Some of you see a fine season in your rear view mirror and a championship on the horizon and whatever happens in between is perfectly acceptable. You see 2009 as another year of building, not of winning or competing for a championship.
That, frankly, is a loser's mentality.
And these Dolphins, being quite far removed from being losers, are not thinking that way at all.
When coach Tony Sparano gathered his players recently, he congratulated them on a great 2008 season. He told them how wonderful it was to turn things around and "change the culture" of losing he encountered when he took over the team.
But, he reminded the players, the job is not complete so he wants, hopes, expects, this team to strive to complete the job. He didn't say, this is a transition team. He didn't say, we'll complete the job in a year or two.
Sparano, Jeff Ireland, Bill Parcells and every player on the Dolphins want to win the Super Bowl this coming season. Owner Stephen Ross wants to host his team in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami. No one is thinking about championships in 2010. This is not the NBA. They are not thinking about completing a four- or five-year program in 2010 or 2011.
2009 is the focus.
Winning Super Bowl XLIV in Miami is the goal. Today is the time, not tomorrow ... and definitely not yesterday. The Dolphins aren't thinking about a five-year plan any more than they are resting on what happened last year.
“We are excited about what happened in the offseason with all the new faces that we have in free agency and with the draft," quarterback Chad Pennington said. "We are excited to bring all of these guys in and that is why every year is different. What we did in 2008 has no bearing in 2009. We have a big challenge ahead of us -- to learn each other and to build team chemistry and to work together.”
When I talk to Dolphins players or people within the organization, they never say we're in the second year of a plan that will take X-number of years. All the players know they might not be around next year -- or next game with this bunch -- so now is the most important time.
Folks atop the organization such as Sparano and Ireland recognize they must look out into the future as they build the team. But they have one eye on that future and the other eye on today.
That's why the team signed Jason Taylor back.
That's the reason the team signed Chad Pennington last year.
That's the reason if the right veteran that can upgrade the team now comes available at some point before the October trading deadline, the Dolphins will consider making the move.
One more thing that has become plainly clear to me in talking about this team with sources, coaches and personnel people. They all recognize there is no promise of success tomorrow.
They talk about a looming "quarterback transition" and how there can be serious bumps on that road to Chad Henne. They talk about losing four or five valuable free agents after this season and having to replace those known players with God knows who. They talk of there being no ironclad certainty in the direction Ross is pointing the organization. They talk of not knowing whether Parcells will be with the team next year or the year after.
They talk of doing everything in their power to make the 2009 Dolphins the best they can be so that the 2009 season is better than 2008.
And they leave the conversation about fanciful 2010 or '11 championships to some fans who don't understand what's most important.